The Great Silence
We all have those places we go when we are overwhelmed and we need rest.
For some, it is a vacation on a beach or a ski trip. When I'm on vacation, it is usually the opposite of rest. It is usually a jam-packed schedule of experiences, seeing and doing everything that I can cram into the time away as I explore every inch of the place I am visiting.
When my spirit needs rest, I need to go to a sacred space where there is lots of silence, nature, and a time for the "to do" list to stop. I have found that with the space that Shade and Fresh Water has created for pastors at the Warren Willis Camp and Retreat Center.
They provide low cost 3 to 4 day personal clergy retreats with no agenda and a couple of sessions with a spiritual director, but a few weeks ago I was able to reserve that amazing space and participate online with the 3 Day Academy of Spiritual Formation. I have to tell you, this is an introvert's dream. We had wonderful sessions with Elaine Heath, who is one of my favorite contemplative mentors, and Jerry Weber, a wonderful spiritual director who has written some beautiful reflections on the Psalms. We also had a covenant group that met at the end of each day.
After each session, we had about an hour to reflect. So great. I can't tell you how many workshops I have been to that never leave any space to think!
I spent my reflection time walking outside in nature. When I came back to the group, I had processed things, so I was ready to listen to others. I can frequently be a verbal processor when the ideas are building up and need an outlet, but it works out much better for me to do that in quiet reflection.
The most amazing part of the retreat was entering The Great Silence each night. It might not seem like a big deal, being by myself, but they asked us to only talk to God from the time evening prayer ended at 7:30 pm until we broke the silence with morning prayer at 9 am. No cell phones, no email, no Facebook, no Netflix. On the Walk to Emmaus, another spiritual retreat, they refer to this as Kairos time, or in other words, holy time that can't be kept by clocks and schedules.
I couldn't believe how healing and restoring the silence was. I came home renewed, energized, and completely detoxified from addictive media and distracting noise.
We usually have to get away to find this level of silence and to tune out the distractions, but I am hoping that we can all experience this silence as part of our Holy Week practice in a few weeks. I am asking everyone to find some experience of silence during Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Maybe you can go from the end of our Good Friday service until our Easter morning greeting in a time of silence or maybe your active household will only allow an hour of silence after the kids go to bed. Maybe we can all at least do a media fast on Holy Saturday.
I would love for each of you to experience the peace of this practice.